Practitioners in public safety agencies and fire, law, and emergency management fields need access to competent, responsive, and neutral resources to provide data, analysis, technical assistance, and training to support effective management practices, the implementation of sound public policy, and the delivery of high-quality services. WSU is seen as a natural source for such services, but there has not always been a convenient entry into the university to access the many capacities represented at WSU. After the closure of the Western Regional Institute for Community Oriented Public Safety and the Washington State Institute for Community Oriented Policing, the Division of Governmental Studies & Services (DGSS) was seen as a natural fit to take on expanded roles in meeting these needs. In support of this demand DGSS operates the Washington State Institute for Criminal Justice in cooperation with the department of Criminal Justice and Criminology.
The DGSS Public Safety Program provides services for local, county, state, tribal, and federal government agencies, non-profits, and communities. This program addresses needs that impact public safety agency efficiency and effectiveness, the quality of administration, training and policy, and the relationships between government and citizens/residents through three primary service areas: research, technical assistance, and training. The training component of this program provides the opportunity for public safety agency employees and community representatives to acquire knowledge that will help them address the effective delivery of services, enhance trust, collaboration, and citizen engagement, improve relationships, and enhance public safety in the region. The technical assistance component of the program provides consultation services such as data analysis, planning support, organizational change intervention, facilitation, and program support. The research component provides qualitative, quantitative, multi-modal, and program evaluation services to bring validated data to bear on issues of performance, training, program delivery, and public policy decision making.
- Through DGSS, WSU has supported the Law Enforcement Mountain Operations School since 2004. As a co-sponsor since 2011, and primary sponsor beginning in 2016, DGSS assists in conducting one-week and single-day training sessions on essential skills for law enforcement operations in wilderness environments.
- DGSS assists in the development and implementation of quarterly State Agency Community Emergency Response Team trainings, serving on the state planning committee, and providing training and exercise evaluation for state employees in the Olympia area.
- DGSS has a developing partnership with the State Fire Marshal, and has provided consultation on instructor and student recruitment and qualifications, and assisted in conducting assessments and evaluations on aspects of the Fire Training Academy.
- DGSS has a strong partnership, memorialized in an MOU, with the Washington Association of Sheriffs and Police Chiefs (WASPC), and is fielding a trio of citizen survey products in support of WASPC’s public trust initiative.
- DGSS is now the administrative home to the WA State Institution for Criminal Justice, which is the successor organization to the WA State Institute for Community Policing and the Western Regional Institute for Community Oriented Public Safety. WSICJ works with the Department of Criminal Justice and Criminology on campus, and with criminal justice agencies.
- DGSS frequently provides training on Ethics in Government to law enforcement and other agencies and government entities.
DGSS responds to requests for service and assistance, most often through contracts for service, but also through independent or joint grant projects. Examples include:
- Work with the Montana Highway Patrol to provide an independent review of traffic stop data to assess for evidence of bias in MHP traffic stops.
- Participation in the Pullman Police Department Smart Policing Initiative as a research partner in a grant-funded activity related to cameras installed on Adams Mall. DGSS conducted an evaluation based in part on student surveys and crime statistics.
- Assessment of the effectiveness of the Drug Recognition Expert program for Washington State Patrol.
“I have worked with WSU – DGSS on a variety of policing and emergency management projects since 1985. They have continuously provided outstanding technical assistance and support.” – Sheriff Steven R. Tomson (ret.), Law Enforcement Coordination Chief, U.S. Attorney’s Office, Eastern District of WA
“DGSS has earned a reputation for conducting quality research on key issues in law enforcement providing agencies with critical information regarding their performance and relationship with the community.” – Paul Perz, Ret. Asst. State Fire Marshal, WSP
Agencies such as the Washington State Patrol, the Spokane Police Department, and the Montana Highway Patrol have used DGSS-generated data or analyses to change policies, training, and field activities to improve the relationships between their agencies and the public.
Law enforcement personnel representing multiple agencies in the United States and Canada now are trained to safely conduct operations in environmental and tactically challenging settings. More than 450 state agency employees to date are trained and equipped to safely respond on the job or in their neighborhoods to assist in emergency event situations.